I visited the lovely Isle of Arran recently for the first time at short notice.
The information leaflet in the B& B was interesting, indicating an area that gave recognition to its Gaelic place names heritage. This prompted me to plan my way to the Island of Arran Heritage Museum in Brodick.
Having arrived on the Isle of Arran with no transport, I asked the Bed and Breakfast lady in Lamlash about a bus timetable. Turns out I had just missed the 9am bus and the next one was at 1pm. The disappointment in my face was evident. She told me I would just have to go and hitch a lift. In response to my disbelieving look she said “No honestly it will work” Islanders know what the bus service is like and they will pick you up.
Well, not having thumbed a lift since my teenage years, at home in the Isle of Lewis, back in the day when every one knew everyone, I was sceptical.
Car number 4 towing a horse box slowed down and stopped, it was the lovely librarian lady. We had an interesting conversation about learning Gaelic on the way to the museum which was situated much further on than her workplace. “I will take you there it is important’ she said.
Arriving before the 10am museum opening time I browsed in the shop, the first publication I spotted and subsequently purchased was the 2015 publication Arainn nam Beann Gaelic song, poetry and stories of Arran.
The museum includes a farmhouse, cottage, bothy, milk house, laundry, stable, coach house and harness room. The exhibits reflect social history, archaeology and geology. The Isle of Arran Heritage Museum has the best collection of stone -age tools I have seen anywhere and the homeliest tearoom with devine soup and healthy cakes. When it came to close to 4pm I was assured there was a bus leaving the school nearby. It was a Saturday no bus.
Car no 4 stopped, the lovely couple lived close to my B& B in and the lady said ” I will tell you what I will do, I will drop you at the art exhibition in Brodick while I do my shoping then I will pick you up and take you to Lamlash”. This lady also worked in tourism and we had a lengthy conversation about the pros and cons of large cruise ships coming into a small island community.
The bus to the ferry was at 10.30 I stood at the bus stop and waited. Getting anxious I asked a couple also standing at the bus stop, whether the buses were quite dependably. Yes, was the resounding reply “Relax you are in Arran”. Well 10.35 and 10.45 passed and we waited.
At 10.50 the bus link to the ferry at 11.15 rounded the corner , stowed to the gunnels with folk. The driver could only jerk his thumb at us as he passed on his way to the ferry. While speechless and disbelievingly looking after the white bus I heard the man say to his wife “Ach well we will just go back home for a coffee and we will catch the 12.30 bus” They must have seen my face as they asked if I had somehere to go till the 12.30. “No” I replied. Well you may as well come back and have a coffee at our house. Result almost two hours sitting in the sun with mighty welcome coffee and magazines till the next bus.
On the ferry approaching Ardrossan the public announcement said The next train to Glasgow is not till 4.45. Blimey two hours away. It will leave from South Harbour. “Where is South Harbour” I asked aloud. A lady told me it was twenty minutes walk away. Gulp! Then young Santiago who had been in the same B&B appeared looking confused, why had a quick confab regarding the 20 minutes walk. A kind lady overheard us and offered to give us a lift as she had a car in the carpark on the pier. On the way to South Harbour she then decided as there was no coffee cabin at South harbour she would take us to Saltcoats.
En-route to Saltcoats station I recalled a previous conversation with Santiago when he said he was travelling by train to Oban on Sunday. Being polite I asked Santiago what time his train left Glasgow. He said “5.45” Well said the driver “I will just drop you both off at Queen St Station”.
To all those who gave me a lift and went out of their way, my heartfelt thanks.
What kind, caring people I met on my visit to the Isle of Arran. I will be back very soon to visit the some of the many archaeological sites.